July 21st 1972

“Trev came up. He brought up N.E.T.E. + Elegy. In afternoon we played cricket + F.ball and got told off by Grumpy”

I got told off by myself? Oh…. got it, this was not 2008, but 1972!

I really was an energetic little toad wasn’t it? Cricket and football all in the space of one day? I’d be pushed to play both of them in one decade now.

Still, once again Trev brought with him some more musical ‘education’, and the mere mention of one – N.E.T.E. – has surprised me significantly.

I have always maintained that the Island compilation album “Nice Enough to Eat” (hence “N.E.T.E. “) was the first album I ever bought. It would seem from this diary entry that I have deceived myself – and others – for a very long time? After all, I would not borrow the album if I already owned it, and didn’t I buy an Emerson, Lake & Palmer album a few months ago?

Given the fact that “Nice Enough to Eat” contains gems from the likes of Traffic, Nick Drake, King Crimson and Blodwyn Pig, and “Emerson Lake & Palmer” is … well … Emerson, Lake & Palmer, I can no longer ‘boast’ to be anywhere near as cool and hip as I’ve always thought I’d been with my first ever record.

Bugger.

That said, N.E.T.E. is a great album and (had it been my first) the perfect primer for a my ‘life in music’.  Part of a trend of ‘sampler’ albums released by the more intelligent labels around this time – the trend including Bumpers, You Can All Join In, El Pea, and The Rock Machine Turns You On, this was sold at the bargain price of about 79p (or $1.50).

The word ‘gems’ I used earlier is not an overstatement either. From Nick Drake’s utterly sublime “Time Has Told Me” (which was to become a personal anthem for my wife & I during our dating years…. “You’re a rare, rare find“) all the way to Spooky Tooth’s anthemic “Better by You, Better than Me” and via the somewhat scary “21st Century Schizoid Man” by King Crimson.

The album single-handedly introduced me to a lifetime’s appreciation of the work of Steve (Traffic) Winwood and Free, as well as utter adoration for Nick Drake’s brief but staggering output. However, the Drake song aside, there is one cut that has stuck with me more than any other. Dr Strangely Strange stumped up “Strangely Strange but Oddly Normal” for the compilation and what a great song it is, peculiarly summing up how I often feel about myself. I have included this on so many mix tapes over the interim 36 years, I feel like I have somehow personally introduced this band to the world, even though they have continued to very much remain an unknown quantity. The problem is (in my ‘umble opine) that whilst that song was great, the album it came from, “Kip of the Serenes” – despite being produced by the mighty Joe Boyd – has always been a massive let down to me. Like so many other bands and artists – just the ONE killer song!

Yes, despite now discovering it wasn’t my first ever vinyl LP purchase, N.E.T.E. will always feel like it was… even if my introduction to it was as yet another ‘borrow’ from my friend Trev and his brother Steven.

Elegy” by The Nice is another matter altogether. The Nice included amongst its number the “E” from ELP, (yes, them again!) which is why I was eager to hear it. I only liked the one cut, and a diary entry a few days from now will go into it in far greater depth.

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